Hooman Majd Offers a Primer on Iran

Hooman Majd was born in Tehran, Iran in 1957, and lived abroad from infancy with his family who were in the diplomatic service. He attended boarding school in England and college in the United States, and stayed in the U.S. after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Majd had a long career in the entertainment business before devoting himself to writing and journalism full-time. He worked at Island Records and Polygram Records for many years, with a diverse group of artists, and was head of film and music at Palm Pictures, where he produced The Cup and James Toback's Black and White.

He has written for GQ, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Observer, Interview, and Salon, and has been a regular contributor to The Huffington Post from its inception. A contributing editor at Interview magazine, he lives in New York City and travels regularly back to Iran.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Is there universal health coverage in Iran?Majd:    Most people are either privately insured or have government insurance.  You can have government insurance and if you’re not insured at all, there are free hospitals and there are charity hospitals as well.  So there is and there isn’t.  I mean, if you have a major operation, you could potentially have a problem if don’t you go to the… you know, if you don’t have insurance and there are people who don’t have insurance but you can get insurance from the government and it’s not expensive compared to the United States.  It’s not quite socialist like… it’s not a socialist model and it’s not quite like Northern European countries where there’s this universal healthcare paid for by the taxes but it’s also not like America where you really are, you know, in trouble if you don’t have insurance of any kind.

Question: How much does Internet censorship curtail information?Majd:    It’s exactly like China.  They used the same software, American software which was used by the Iranian authorities.  It’s very odd though because when I’m in Iran, I always find this really strange, I mean, you’ll go on… I can go to the New York Times site, for example, when I’m in Tehran and read the news, I can’t go on the New York Post then I go to the Jerusalem Post which is very anti-Iranian as an Israeli newspaper and that’s not blocked, you go on Haaretz which is a left-wing Israeli paper which is less anti-Iran, that’s not blocked either. 

Question: How do Iranians view Americans?

Majd: Most of the Iranian people I would say if you want to talk about an average Iranian would like there to be a relationship with America based on mutual respect that also doesn’t mean that Iran will become subservient to America or has to do what America says everytime.  The sense of being a weak power is kind of now gone, Iran doesn’t have that sense, the Iranian people doesn’t have that sense anymore, they don’t want to be subservient to a foreign power, it’s really something that makes them uncomfortable and given what they’ve gone through for the last 30 years and being able to survive on their own as an independent nation, it’s a very strong sense now among the Iranian people that we don’t need to be subservient to other countries.  So as long as America doesn’t dictate to Iran what to do, how to vote at the UN, how to do this, whether to do this or not do that.  I think Iranians would love to see a relationship, the vast majority of them.  Every poll that’s been taken, an unofficial poll in Iran has indicated that and I think it’s true in my own experience talking to, you know, the average Iranian on the street, you know, in homes, from the upper class, to the working class, there hasn’t been a single person who said, “Oh no, we can’t let the Americans back into this country because they’re evil.”  I never heard that, it’s quite the opposite, “No, we would like to have relations but they have to understand that they have to respect us, they have to understand who we are.


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